The top six apostles (Lk 6:14-6:14)

“They were

Simon,

Whom he named Peter,

And his brother

Andrew,

James,

John,

Philip,

And Bartholomew.”

 

Σίμωνα, ὃν καὶ ὠνόμασεν, Πέτρον καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην, καὶ Φίλιππον καὶ Βαρθολομαῖον,

 

Luke then gave a list of these 12 apostles.  The first six named were Simon (Σίμωνα), whom he renamed Peter (ὃν καὶ ὠνόμασεν, Πέτρον), his brother Andrew (καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ), as well as James (καὶ Ἰάκωβον), John (καὶ Ἰωάνην), Philip (καὶ Φίλιππον), and Bartholomew (καὶ Βαρθολομαῖον).  This section about the names of the 12 apostles is similar to Mark, chapter 3:16-19 and Matthew, chapter 10:2-4.  This list can also be compared to the list in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:13.  There are some discrepancies with these names.  First on all the lists was Simon.  Luke said that Jesus named him Peter, not merely known as Peter.  Next Luke had Andrew, the brother of Peter, but he never mentioned him in the call of the first disciples in chapter 5:1-11.  Next were the 2 brothers James and John, who were mentioned earlier.  James was always listed first.  However, they were not called the sons of Zebedee, as they were in the other gospel stories.  Mark had a longer explanation about them, calling them the sons of thunder.  Clearly, these 4 apostles were considered the most important with Peter at the top of this group, while James played an important role also.  The role of Andrew, the brother of Peter, was more ambiguous.  They are no longer called the 12 disciples (δώδεκα μαθητὰς) but the 12 apostles (δὲ δώδεκα ἀποστόλων).  They had changed from being mere followers (μαθητὰς) to now being sent out as apostles (ἀποστόλων).  Matthew had already mentioned, the call of the first 4 disciples in chapter 4:18-22.  Now they became the first 4 named apostles.  Philip and Bartholomew came next as 5 and 6 in all the lists of the apostles, without any other information about them.

The shepherds praise God (Lk 2:20-2:20)

“The shepherds

Returned.

They glorified God.

They praised God

For all they had heard

And seen,

Just as it had been told

To them.”

 

καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν καὶ εἶδον καθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς.

 

Luke said that these shepherds returned to their flocks of sheep (καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες).  They glorified (δοξάζοντες) and praised God (καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν) for all they had heard (ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν) and seen (καὶ εἶδον), just as it had been told to them (καθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς).  These shepherds appear to be stand-ins for the people of Israel.  They had all this information about the baby child Messiah, Christ, Savior, and Lord.  They had actually seen him as they had glorified and praised God.  Nevertheless, they seemed to go about their business, as if nothing had happened.

Herod kills all the two-year old boys (Mt 2:16-2:16)

“When Herod saw

That he had been tricked

By the magi,

He was infuriated.

He sent men

To kill

All the male children

In and around Bethlehem

Who were two years old

Or under.

This was based

According to the time frame

That he had ascertained

From the magi.”

 

Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν παρὰ τῶν μάγων.

 

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Herod realized that he had been tricked or outwitted by the magi (Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων), those tricky magicians.  He was very angry (ἐθυμώθη λίαν), so he sent out people (ἀποστείλας).  He ordered them to kill all the little infant boys (ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας) under the age of 2 in the Bethlehem area and vicinity (τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς).  He picked the age of 2 and under (ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω) based on the information about the time frame (κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν) about the birth of this child that he had understood from the magi (παρὰ τῶν μάγων).  However, since the Bethlehem area was sparsely populated, this might have meant that he only killed about 20 children at most.  Thus, there would not have been wide spread panic, except in Bethlehem itself.  This story of the killing of the infant male children is like that of the Israelite male children in Exodus, chapter 1:15-22, where Moses was saved, just like Jesus here.  There, the Egyptian king told the midwives to kill every male Israelite baby.  Finally, he had all the Israelite male babies thrown into the Nile River.

The traditional canonical Greek bible

The standard collection of twenty-seven books of the New Testament, centers on the good news about Jesus the “Christ,” literally “the anointed one,” and his followers.  The collected canon of biblical books during the first four centuries is in itself an indication of how the value of these texts developed slowly and emerged over time.  These diverse inspired authors of the second half of the first century of the Christian era provide a basic insight into the thought and practices of the primitive Christian communities.  Our shared sacred documents also reveal information about the perceived role of the Holy Spirit in the activities and expectations of the newly forming Christian communities.

The time and place of Ezekiel’s first vision (Ezek 1:1-1:3)

“In the thirtieth year,

In the fourth month,

On the fifth day

Of the month,

As I was among the exiles

By the river Chebar,

The heavens

Were opened.

I saw visions

Of God.

This was the fifth day

Of the month

Of the fifth year

Of the exile

Of King Jehoiachin.

The word of Yahweh

Came to

The priest Ezekiel,

The son of Buzi,

In the land

Of the Chaldeans

By the river Chebar.

The hand

Of Yahweh

Was on me there.”

The dating is very precise here. This is the 30th year, probably from his birth around 623 BCE during the reign of King Josiah. Ezekiel writes in the first person singular. He said that he was among the exiles at the Chebar River, a small canal near Erech that ran into the Euphrates River in northern Babylon. On the 5th day of the 4th month the heavens opened to provide visions of God to him.  Once again, there is precise information about the date, as this was the 5th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin that had occurred in 598 BCE. Thus this year would have been 593 BCE. Ezekiel’s father was Buzi, a Jerusalem priest, so that he was from a family of priests. The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar. Yahweh put his hand on him. Thus the opening scene is set with this 30 year old exiled Jerusalem priest by a river bank with the rest of the exiles, when a heavenly vision appeared to him.

Isaiah (Sir 48:22-48:25)

“King Hezekiah followed

What the prophet Isaiah

Had commanded.

Isaiah was great.

Isaiah was trustworthy

In his visions.

In Isaiah’s days,

The sun went backward.

He prolonged

The life of the king.

By his dauntless spirit

He saw the future.

He comforted the mourners

In Zion.

He revealed

What was to occur

To the end of time.

He revealed the hidden things

Before they happened.”

Sirach may have had 2 sources for his information about the prophet Isaiah (approximately 772-698 BCE). Besides, the mention of Isaiah in 2 Kings, chapters 17-20, there is a whole biblical Book of Isaiah with 66 chapters about and supposedly from this prophet Isaiah. He consulted with a number of kings, but especially King Hezekiah. He is generally considered one of the most important of the Israelite prophets both for age and time, because he was faithful to Yahweh. He made the sun turn around when he cured King Hezekiah, by lengthening his life. He also was a seer or predicator of things to come, but some of these visions may have been written after the events had already happened. He revealed many hidden things. Suffice it to say, his impact on Judaism and early Christianity was enormous.